Grete Waitz (born October 1, 1953) was a Norwegian marathon runner who won nine New York City Marathons between 1978 and 1988. She also won a silver medal at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.
Born in Oslo, Norway, Grete was a talented youngster in athletics, but had difficulty in getting her parents to take her potential profession seriously. This was a time when female athletes were not given the necessary support and funding needed to compete at the top level. However, Grete did run at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich in the 1500 metres, and to support her athletic career she studied at a teachers college.
In 1975 Grete broke the 3000 metres world record twice, but she was gradually upping her distance until she found the marathon the comfortable race for her. It was in 1978 that her association with the New York marathon began, winning it nine times overall and breaking the world record on several occasions. Other successes came in the World Cross-country Championships which she won five times, and the London Marathon which she won in 1983 and 1986.
Unfortunately, Olympic success eluded her. Norway was one of the countries that decided to boycott the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. At the 1984 Summer Olympics she was beaten into second place by Joan Benoit. She did win a gold medal however at the 1983 IAAF World Championships in Athletics in Helsinki.
Although not competing at the top level, Grete still runs in and organises corporate races in which she aims to give advice and information on distance running and health. She also does a lot of charity work, particularly for the CARE International and the International Special Olympics.
Grete is widely acknowledged as helping to promote marathon and long-distance running for women. In Norway she is a sporting legend, with an annual race named after her in her honour. There is also a statue of her outside the Bislett Stadium in Oslo, and she has been featured on a set of stamps.